The president’s inaugural address had all the trappings of hope and optimism — even limited government — but it remained firmly planted in the idea that America is a country of inequality — especially for women and girls.

While President Obama acknowledged Americans’ “skepticism of central authority” and that government cannot cure “all society’s ills,” he continues to view America as inherently unequal and unfair, and he views government as playing a leading role in women’s lives.

Not surprisingly, he fit in that evergreen remark about the so-called pay gap:

For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

In contrast to the brightness he projected, it is deeply dark to think that the president continues to view women as a victim class, who don’t share in the same freedoms and opportunities as men. At a time when there is so much positive news for women and girls here in America — when women are taking advantage of great educational opportunities and increasingly becoming leaders in their professions– how sad for our president to continue to view them as anything less than that.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t have a government safety net to help the most vulnerable in society. But there is a big difference between a safety net and a set of cradle-to-grave policies intended to turn all women into “Julia,” permanent wards of the state.

One final point that really sent chills down my spine:

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending.

It’s true that troops are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but not because violence around the globe has subsided or — as last week’s episode in Algeria demonstrates — because militants in the Middle East and Africa have grown any less powerful. In fact what all women and their families should be aware of is that terrorism is only poised to intensify in the years ahead. And at a time when women and girls around the globe suffer under the most brutal political and social regimes, it is unfathomable that the president would suggest we are entering a more peaceful era. 

— Sabrina L. Schaeffer is executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum